Byrds undeterred by obstacles in path
Jamie Byrd has long spent her days caring for children, and those in the greatest of need at that. The Destrehan resident is a nurse in the oncology ward of Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, caring for those battling cancer.
“I consider all the children at the hospital my own,” she said. “Working with children is amazing. They’re not like adults. They say whatever is on their mind. It’s a blessing.”
It’s a cruel twist, in light of this, that Byrd has been unable to have children of her own — but that could change soon.
Jamie and husband, Corey, have always seen a child in their future, but those plans were put on hold after Hurricane Katrina. With Jamie still working on garnering her nursing degree, the couple decided to wait.
But eventually, they decided it was time; after a long spell of trying, however, things weren’t progressing.
“She went to see her OBGYN,” Corey said. “She was diagnosed with PCOS. It causes cysts on your ovaries that make it very difficult, if not impossible, to ovulate. She went on medication and we thought that would make things right, and a few other things, but no results.”
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormone imbalances and make it extremely difficult for a woman to become pregnant.
“It was a blow,” Jamie said. “I didn’t know anything about (PCOS), and the doctors really didn’t know all that much about it because it was kind of a new thing. It was really a shock. I started reading blogs about how people get through it. Initially, it was devastating.”
It’s led to some difficult emotional times for the couple. Jamie has a sister who has the same affliction, but medication allowed her to have a child. Likewise, it seemed it might do the trick for Jamie herself, who last year did get pregnant in spite of the PCOS. But the pregnancy ended in miscarriage, causing more pain.
“We’re still holding out hope,” she said.
The Byrds are now seeking treatment that will reverse the issue, but many attempts have run dry so far. That has brought them to the potential of vitro fertilization, a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child.
During that process, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from the ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab.
The procedures and medications already attempted have exhausted the couple’s financial reserves and they were prodded by friends to seek help.
The Byrds have set up a GoFundMe page (http://www.gofundme.com/j6ipm8) for those willing to help.
Through seven months, many have done just that, with $4,430 raised to help the Byrds toward their next potential step. Friends have also held two garage sales to raise funding for them, and Corey said it has gone a long way. He estimates they are between $6,000 and $7,000 of reaching their goal.
“At first I said, absolutely not,” Jamie said. “I wasn’t going to ask for money. But people reassured me that nobody is going to donate if they can’t afford to. It’s really been an amazing response. I’m really grateful and blessed.”
Corey Byrd said he and Jamie will have a medical consultation where that step will be determined.
“If they tell us it’s a 50-50 shot, at that point we’d adopt,” he said. “But if he tells us that it’s 90 percent likely, we’ll go with the vitro fertilization.”
In the meantime, Jamie said she’s still exploring every avenue to correct the issue before any potential procedure or adoption.
Her husband says his heart aches for a wife that often places the burden of responsibility onto herself.
“She’s told me sometimes she feels like a broken wife,” he said. “And I say, ‘Please, you’re the most wonderful, caring person I know. You do so much with an open heart.’ And I tell her that one way or another, we’re going to bring a child into our family.”
Jamie said, “I’m the oldest of my siblings. My sisters each have children … I always thought I’d be the first to. I know it’s ridiculous thinking in so many ways, but it plays with your mind … Corey’s been tested and they said he’s fine. So sometimes it just feels like I’m the reason.”
She is moving on from Children’s Hospital. Jamie accepted a position as a nurse with the St. Charles Parish School Board. She’s still taking care of children, but from a new vantage point. That’s something she did not want to change at all.
“I’ve worked with adults before, and it’s very rewarding. But kids are where it’s at,” Jamie said.
Corey said if their hopes are ultimately realized, it will mean the world.
“It would be all we’ve been dreaming of,” he said. “To hold that baby in our arms, to watch him or her grow up with cousins, see them through school and have family vacations. It would be incredible.”
“I’ve watched so many people in my life begin families and have children and often wondered if we never would have that chance,” she said. “It would mean everything.”